Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. —Hebrews 11:6
Many years ago we had a tragedy in our church. Three people were slain, and we had a triple funeral; all three caskets lined up in front of the stage. It was a horrendous week, and by Sunday night I didn’t have anything left in my heart to say. So when time came for the evening sermon, I simply opened to Hebrews 11 and read it, all forty verses. Then I closed my Bible, pronounced the benediction, and sent everyone home. I was surprised by the impact. People were deeply moved, openly weeping. One man who was sobbing as he left told me he’d never known such power was contained in this chapter.
The theme of the book of Hebrews is perseverance. It was written to a group of Jewish Christians who were encountering opposition, and the writer was worried that some would give up on the gospel. In chapter 10 he reminds them of previous days when they had been publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions (v. 33), and some had incurred the confiscation of their possessions (v. 34). He warns them not to throw away their confidence (v. 35) but to exercise endurance (v. 36).
That brings us to chapter 11, in which he holds up the great persevering heroes of the Old Testament. This is called the “Faith Chapter of the Bible,” the “Westminster Abby of Scripture,” and “Faith’s Hall of Fame.” The chapter begins by giving us the Bible’s classic definition of faith, in verse 1: “Now faith is the reality of things hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” And according to verse 6, without this kind of faith, it’s impossible to please God. Those who come to Him must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Here are four reasons faith is necessary for pleasing God.
- Faith brings salvation to our lives. As we’ve seen in previous verses, we are saved by grace through faith.
- Faith brings motivation to our work. The main theme of Hebrews 11 is that faith leads us to do things for God we would never otherwise do. It motivates, fuels, and drives our labor. The very next verse (v. 7) tells how Noah, by faith, built an ark to save his family.
- Faith brings rest to our souls. When we’re tempted to fret and fear, we discover that God has given us multiple promises and assurances for every contingency in life.
- Faith brings excitement to our future. We look forward by faith to a city whose builder and maker is God (vv. 10, 16).
[Faith] glorifies God exceedingly, because it proves that we have more confidence in His eyesight than in our own. —C. H. Mackintosh
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